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When You Are a Pedestrian


Published 1948


Pedestrians and motorists share the responsibility for accident prevention. Filmed on the streets and sidewalks of Oakland, California, and on a tabletop with model cars and dolls representing pedestrians. The film that began the Prelinger Archives collection.


Run time 9:55
Producer Progressive Pictures
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Shotlist

INCLUDES BOTH PEDESTRIAN'S & MOTORIST'S RESPONSIBILITIES TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS. FILMED IN OAKLAND, IN BROADWAY TERRACE AREA. GREAT SIMULATED ACCIDENTS, ALSO MODELS, ALSO NEWS PHOTOS OF ACCIDENTS.


Ken Smith sez: This film opens as a nameless "ex-pedestrian" tells us that he is dead -- killed by a driver named "Joe Smith." "It hurt pretty bad at first," he reflects, as we see a bloody corpse on an autopsy table. We then see a stock shot montage of gruesome accident scenes complete with dead accident victims. "Here is death," the narrator explains. "Raw and ugly death!" We see staged street sequences (shot in Oakland, California) and crude feltboard animation of pedestrians being mowed down, but the film seems to lose its direction and sputters out as it ends (though the scene with the paramilitary safety patrol guards is fun). Still, this is probably the first truly bloody driver safety film, and much more rewarding than its title would imply. It film concludes as we learn that Joe Smith has to pay the narrator's wife $50,000 in damages, which makes everybody miserable except the narrator. "Well -- I'll be seeing you!" he says cheerily as the film ends. Remade in 1959.

8:51:04:25- 8:51:17:26
Overview of pedestrians crossing an Oakland intersection. We look down at them, and view the cars waiting to turn in the intersection. The pedestrian's shadows are nice.

8:53:17:10- 8:53:33:14
Great image of a woman holding a little girl's hand and crossing a busy Oakland street (there are tracks on the street). They first walk and then run. We get a nice view of a shopping area (White Cross Bakery, a refrigerator shop, buildings and houses).

8:53:33:25- 8:54:06:24
Crossing guards wearing uniforms make a human wall (all arms are extended) for the children to cross the street. Several of the children look Indian. Two older girls cross giggling; they look at the camera.


Safety Danger Lurks ACCIDENTS SAFETY TRAFFIC PEDESTRIANS AUTOMOBILES MOTORISTS DRIVING OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA MODELS NEWS PHOTOS CARS Safety films Models Feltboard models Accidents (automobile) Automobiles (accidents) Accidents (simulated) Surrealism Courts Traffic Street scenes Streets Oakland, California (history and culture) Pedestrians Night scenes Death Judges Traffic courts Children Danger
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Reviews

Reviewer: ERD - - January 18, 2006
Subject: Effective film for pedestrians
A couple of flaws, but basically an excellent film to make pedestrians aware of their safety.
Fashions, styles, and cars of 1948 historically interesting.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - September 10, 2005
Subject: Best of all worlds
When You Are A Pedestrian is a pretty outworldly exploration into what and who causes auto accidents. I canÂt remember a film that combines so many methods of getting itÂs point across. LetÂs see, Scare film, desktop model, Sid Davis film, Keaton Cops, etc etc. Actually, the best scene of this film happens at the beginning, when a guy is hit by a car, and he goes flying off. Now THATÂS how you begin a movie!

As for the ending, I think IÂve heard a film or two that do end this way.. with the line ÂIÂll be seeing youÂ. While the usage here is ironic, I am not 100% convinced this is what the filmmakers intended.

Fun little film, highly recommended!
Reviewer: Wilford B. Wolf - - August 5, 2004
Subject: Film Zero
If this was the first film in the Prelinger archive, I can see why. This educational film aimed at an older audience (perhaps as part of a drivers ed course?) is an odd pastiche of styles seen in safety films.

The film starts off with a simulated pedestrian-car accident, and the narrator identifying himself as the victim. This transitions to some rather graphic images of automobile accidents and vicitims (including a disturbing shot of two children corpses laid out on a stretcher).

Then we get a selection of what to do and not when you cross streets and other unsafe situations, including a combination of staged action, what looks like candid footage of people breaking pedestrian rules, and tabletop animation simulations. Underneath it all, the music is bizarrely cheeful.

The film ends with a summation of what happened to driver that opened the film. The signoff of "Well, I'll be seeing you" just caps this rather odd little movie. No wonder this drove Mr. Prelinger to search more of these films.
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